DURHAM PLANS FOR MILLENNIUM LIFT OFF
Cricket Club have ambitious plans both on and off the field as the
new millennium enters its second year.
The county may have lost its treasured first division status in
the county championship last season but new coach Martyn Moxon and
overseas player Martin Love are confident the good times will return
to the Riverside.
Chester-le-Street meanwhile is once again the venue for top class
international cricket with world champions Australia taking on Pakistan
in a re-run of the World Cup final on Saturday 16th June.
With the clubs finances, previously described as "fragile"
by Chairman Bill Midgley, improving the continued development of
Riverside will further enhance Durham's standing in the First Class
An Indoor Cricket School, Media /Educational Resource Centre and
on site Hotel or leisure complex are all on the drawing board subject
to the appropriate funding.
With its unique location nestled inside the snaking River Wear and
the imposing Lumley Castle in the background the purpose built stadium
has much to offer the cricket fan, businessman and those simply
looking to get away from it all.
Durham made a profit of £100,000 from the England One Day
international last year and another £72,000 from their Benefit
Year and in many aspects are out performing many of their rivals.
The club boasts 18 corporate boxes and 3 lounges. The catering operation
had an annual turnover of £800,000.
Director of Finance and Administration David Harker believes Durham
can become a role model for the other 17 professional counties.
"Our aim is to be the most successful and highly regarded cricketing
organisation in England," he said.
"It's not beyond our wildest dreams to develop the ground to
its full potential with excellent amenities, have one of the top
four sides in the country and an established Academy accredited
by the ECB."
"These are exciting times for Durham. We've got the venue,
catchment area and the sporting interest and money made from the
various projects is ploughed back into the cricket side of the operation."
While performances on the field are of paramount importance Harker
believes they have to look beyond the game to maximise the undoubted
potential of the Riverside.
"We're more than just a cricket club," he said. "The
stadium is only used for 40-50 days a year for cricket and that's
why our banqueting and conference facilities are so important."
"A hotel or Leisure complex on the ground would further increase
income streams as we strive to improve our trading figures year
Chairman Bill Midgley stresses the importance of Durham's role in
the community and a study undertaken by Durham University's Business
School suggests that the County Cricket Club brings an extra £5
million into the region each year.
One-day internationals are a major source of income and Midgley
eventually wants five day Test matches staged at Riverside.
"That's the ultimate goal," he said. "but if we're
generating income for the region the spin off should be that some
of it is put back into the club."
"An Indoor School is a must both for the professionals and
local players. We've shown by the number of players who have come
through the Academy to represent England that there is talent in
the north east."
"The major Test grounds have indoor facilities and with central
funding and lottery money the Indoor School should become reality
in the near future."
Durham have several offers on the table to build a hotel on the
ground but are also considering the benefit of installing a Leisure
Complex at Riverside.
"It's a case of which will bring the greater financial reward,"
admitted Midgley. "a hotel would compliment our conference
and seminars operation as well as provide accommodation for spectators."
"Trent Bridge and Old Trafford both have hotels on the ground
and by developing the ground we'll be able to compete with the more
While the county have ambitious plans off the field Midgley is acutely
aware that the side needs to be competitive out in the middle.
Prolific Queensland Batsman Martin Love has replaced fellow Australian
Simon Katich as the County's overseas player and talented former
Yorkshire coach Martyn Moxon has come in for veteran Norman Gifford.
Durham have a high percentage of locally produced talent and no
county had more players in the recent young England squad.
"We have a good schools liaison programme," said Midgley.
"and we've already produced an impressive amount of talented
cricketers from the region."
"That's very important because in cricket, unlike football,
you can't buy a team. Despite relegation last year we're moving
in the right direction."
"The future looks bright for Durham and north east cricket
and we will endeavour to make progress both on and off the field
over the coming months and years."